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Charles Vander Woerd, mechanical superitent at American Watch Co. invented the first automatic screw machine in 1871. The first few machines were a smaller version and used to make jewel screws. The machine at the CRMI, however, could be set up to make any size watch screw.. from tiny jewel screws to the case screws used to hold a movement in its case. There were forty-five of these machines built at a cost of $2000. apiece between 1871 and about 1876 and used in the screw making department at Waltham. The thirtieth machine built was exhibted in Machinery Hall and attrectd the attention of crowd of visitors for the whole duration of the great Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. This was the first international exhibition at which the products and methods of the American system were displayed.
A single operator can readily attend six or more of these machines and produce fifty to sixty thousand screws per day while, by the older method, a man might make twelve to fifteen hundred screws per day with a little aid from a boy. The basic design of this machine was copied by other watch factories. In 1895, the Waltham Screw Co. mader some for their own use,and the B.C. Ames Co. in Waltham made some almost fifty yeas after it was invented. None of these later copies exhibited the fine finish workmanship of the original. Waltham Watch Co. featured this machine in company advertising as late as 1919. This machine represented the triumph of Charles Vander Woerd's mechabnical genius.
The Charles Vander Woerd automatic screwmaking machine can be seen on display at the Charles River Museum of Industry, Waltham, MA.
WOW! what a great piece of history!
I just love this kind of information.
Wonderful picture too. Thank you!
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